Essay on Analysis of Women Rights in Leaves of Grass

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In 1855 when the first edition of Leaves of Grass was published, the first Women’s Convention had already taken place in Seneca Falls. According to Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass is a women’s book. In the epigraph of Sherry Ceniza’s Walt Whitman and 19th-century women reformers she quotes him having said “Leaves of Grass I essentially a woman’s book: the women do it know it, but every now and then a woman shows that she knows it” (Ceniza). The implication here combined with the text in Song of Myself suggest a phenomenon that is all too common. Whitman is seen as and sees himself as a poet beyond racial and gender distinctions but like many in a position of privilege, their appropriation of the pain felt by these opposed groups serves only…show more content…
Whitman’s language is saying that as an individual you must find your community and stay there. This would be problematic if he had not followed it with him asserting his belief that his own is the man and the women. He also declares that mothers are part of his community, and the mothers of mothers. It is important to note that Whitman is not suggesting an equality between the two in this passage. He is simply saying that all of these people are his people, his community is made up of all kinds. While it is not a direct attack on women’s oppression nor a direct statement in support of their rights, on a scale of supportive to problematic, this passage falls near the center. One cannot yet label Whitman as a feminist but so far he has not proved to be a misogynist either. The first of Whitman’s slightly problematic comments on women comes in the next section of Song of Myself, section eight. In this section of the poem Whitman is observing all these events that are occurring around him. He starts with a baby in its cradle and continues on, seeing suicides, snow, a sick man and more. As the section is coming to a close he observes “exclamations of women taken suddenly who hurry home and give birth to babes” (163). Albeit small, it is impossible to ignore that Whitman observation of women is them “hurrying” to give birth. The word implies an
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